A few decades ago, Baltimore was home to many high-paying jobs in steel and manufacturing. As those industries began to disappear, the city fell on hard economic times. Things got so bad that Baltimore's crime inspired HBO's series "The Wire" – not exactly material for tourism brochures. But flash forward to the present and the city is noticeably improving. According to a report [PDF] by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, the city has one of the country's most educated populations. Of the top 25 metro areas, Baltimore currently ranks fourth in percent of residents with a graduate or professional degree and fourth in median household income.
Baltimore was also recently named one of the 10 cities with the greatest concentration of creative workers, including IT and tech workers, in a report by CityLab. The city also recently hosted the Startup Champions Network Summit, an invite-only event that focuses on up-and-coming tech cities in the United States.
The growth of Charm City's tech scene has been fueled by several influencers, including Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, as well as a variety of incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces, such as those run by Emerging Technology Centers (ETC).
"ETC is actually responsible for Incubate Baltimore, Accelerate Baltimore and Beehive Baltimore," says Deborah Tillett, president and executive director of ETC. Programs like the ETC's help tech entrepreneurs find the support and connections needed to launch a business.
One such entrepreneur is Graham Dodge, CEO and president of Sickweather, an app that uses social media and crowd sourcing to track illness.
"I think that a lot of the talent in Baltimore has gone ignored largely because it's not Silicon Valley or viewed as a top-tier city," says Dodge.
One of the advantages to being a tech entrepreneur in Baltimore? Location, location, location! Baltimore residents have all the amenities of a major city plus easy access to beaches, mountains, and other great East Coast cities (thanks, Amtrak!).
It's also a lot easier on the wallet than many other similar-sized cities and boasts a strong sense of community within the tech scene.
"It's an affordable, walkable waterfront city, which is what millennials want," says Tillett. "Baltimore has incredible housing stock on an amazing waterfront. You can't find an affordable house on or near the water like you can here."
"We call it 'Smalltimore' because everyone knows each other," says Dodge. "It's like the Kevin Bacon thing – there's six degrees of everyone in Baltimore."